Survival Guide for a Southern Road Trip
Prior to heading out on your southern road trip, a few precautionary steps should be taken. You should ensure that your vehicle is in good shape. Check all of your fluids, wiper blades, and lights and make sure that you’ve had a recent oil change and tire rotation. These small steps can make a long trip significantly easier on your vehicle.
Once you’ve decided on your destination, it is important to pack accordingly. A weekend relaxing on the shores of Lake Okeechobee requires a completely different set of gear than a weekend exploring the mountains of western North Carolina. Typically, the South tends to be warmer and more humid than other parts of the country. This makes it a great and easy escape in cooler months especially, but the warm and wet climate tends to get a lot of rain and is home to a lot of bugs. Don’t forget your rain jacket and bug spray!
Where you plan to sleep will also have a major impact on your trip. The South is not known for its open space or public land, but does have plenty of options if you’re looking to camp. Kampgrounds of America (KOA) are a great resource for roadtrippers. They are all over the country, are affordable to stay and generally have showers to use. State parks are always a good option for camping as well. The state of Tennessee has over 50 parks, most of which have campgrounds with bathrooms and picnic tables. If you’re planning on sleeping in a car or RV, many Walmarts allows overnight parking in a pinch.
If pitching a tent or sleeping in the back of your SUV is not your style, hotels are a convenient option. Book ahead to save some cash! AirBNB, a vacation rental app, is a cool way to stay on the cheap. Many AirBNB hosts will have secret, local knowledge of the area, helping you to get the best experience while staying. Couchsurfing.com is a way to stay with a local and is very affordable as well.
No matter the distance, a road trip involves lots of driving. Time on the road is strenuous, so it’s important to make sure that you make things easy and comfortable for the long haul. A good cooler, such as a Canyon Coolers Outfitter 22 is a must. A good cooler holds ice for days and will keep drinks and snacks extra cold. Make sure it has a good ice retention rate so you don’t have to worry about re-filling each time you stop.
Hydration is another, often overlooked, important part of road tripping. A good water bottle goes a long way and is a must for road trips. If you’re a caffeine freak, the same goes for a coffee cup. Check out Hydroflask for both hot and cold drink needs.
One last road trip pro-tip. Don’t forget the extra napkins! They can come in handy in so many ways. Spills and accidents happen. Be prepared with some napkins or paper towels when they do.
A road trip through the South is not complete without a stop in Asheville, North Carolina, a bustling city of nearly half a million people. Asheville is a hub of outdoor recreation, music, and beer, making it a must roadtrippers of all types.
- Asheville is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers amazing views. While there, outdoor recreation opportunities are limitless. Head to the Nantahala Outdoor Center to climb and bike in the Pisgah National Forest or raft the French Broad.
- With the most breweries per capita of any city in the US, beer lovers will love Asheville. Catawba Brewing, founded by North Carolina natives in 1999, is a local favorite. With offerings from a Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout to a Guava IPA, Catawba has a beer for palates of all types.
- For historical buffs, the Biltmore Estate is a must see. The property features the country’s largest privately owned house, which comes in at just under 180,000 square feet. For reference, the White House comes in at only 55,000. The property was developed by the prestigious Vanderbilt family and includes a beautiful garden and scenic forest for visitors to explore.
- Spending a night on the town is well worth it while in Asheville. The Orange Peel hosts everything from bluegrass to electronic music, as well as movies and comedy. Tickets are affordable and the theatre offers something most nights of the week.
- Nashville, Tennessee is another must stop while roadtripping through the South. Known as the home of country music, “the Music City” has much more to offer.
- While Tennessee does not seem like a hockey hot spot, the National Hockey League’s Nashville Predators are one of the league’s best teams. They feature some of the league’s best players and were runners up in the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals.
- Spend a day on the General Jackson Riverboat, which cruises up and down the Cumberland River. The tour is a unique way to experience Nashville, combining stunning views with the South’s grace and grandeur.
- Nashville may have a reputation as the home of country music, but is also the home to many world famous BBQ places. With such a plethora of great options, you can’t go wrong. Make sure to try the Nashville hot style while in town!
- How can you talk about Nashville without bringing up the Grand Ole Opry. A major piece of country music history, the venue still hosts a weekly concert series. Many of country music’s top stars are regularly featured. For an even more in-depth experience, check out their backstage tours!
The South is full of many more must see spots. A road trip through the area will allow you to discover your own. Though it’s not the typical road trip destination, the South offers visitors many experiences that are unique to the area. The key to a southern road trip is good planning and preparation, but also keeping an open mind. Stay safe and have fun, the South is open for visitors!